Working at a county hospital’s ER in Atlanta takes a humble heart. Naaz Malek became a Physician Assistant trained in Emergency Medicine 10 years ago out of a genuine desire to help others. However, she quickly became frustrated with the number of people coming in for preventable issues that had spiraled into an emergency.
“Whenever there was a gap in someone’s care, somebody dropped the ball, an appointment or medication refill was missed, guess where they ended up — in my ER,” Naaz says. “If somebody just reminded them they had a doctor’s appointment or kept track of medication refills, they wouldn’t be there.” She realized “sick care,” which we do a lot of in the United States, isn’t healthcare. For Naaz, healthcare is about proactive, long-term thinking. This can be regular visits to your Primary Care Physician (PCP), remembering to take your medication, or even asking your doctor the right questions. But for some older adults, these tasks can be hard to manage. That’s where Gen by Gen Health comes in.
While Naaz was practicing medicine, she was always managing at least three or four people’s care on the side. Whether it was her parents’ friends or her siblings’ coworkers, people were constantly asking questions related to their care.
I was reviewing labs, telling them what to tell the doctor, and finding other doctors for them. I remember everybody told me, ‘I wish I had one of you all the time.’
As she was providing care assistance to family and friends and working in the ER, Naaz realized there was a real need for care assistance services.
But before Gen by Gen Health was conceived, the pandemic hit. In the summer of 2020, she went on deployment to work at a free testing site in the Bronx. Her goal was to start something like that in her hometown of Atlanta. Naaz and a business partner started with one testing site and expanded to 12 locations that also provided vaccines, and helped counsel COVID-positive patients. Her success from Emergency Testing gives her the runway to help fund her dream of Gen By Gen Health.
Today, Gen by Gen Health is a concierge care company that helps older adults (55-80+) maintain their health. They track medication delivery and refills, research new healthcare providers, and provide virtual companionship to appointments. They make sure the right questions get asked and family members’ concerns are addressed.
“Your parents will go to the doctor and you’ll ask them, ‘Hey, what did the doctor say?’ And they’ll say, ‘Nothing, everything’s fine.’ You know that’s not the case,” Naaz says.
Gen by Gen fills in the gap by taking an objective list to clients’ doctor’s appointments. They ask each family member, ‘What do you want addressed during this appointment? What are you most concerned about?’ And make sure to hold the physicians in those appointments accountable.
Passionate as she is, Naaz has found it challenging to prove the value of a service that people don’t know they need.
Naaz explains, “This is not telemedicine. We’re not diagnosing your cough and cold. We’re not trying to sell you a product. We’re not the ones refilling your meds. It’s a challenge to get somebody’s attention long enough to explain to them what this is — and why it’s a good thing for them. People only realize there’s a need for it once they hear it summarized the way I can.”
Secondly, people have to pay out-of-pocket. “The second biggest obstacle has been the lack of coverage,” she says. “This is a subscription-based service. All of our clients have their children split the cost. It would be really nice if it were covered by Medicare.”
Though Gen by Gen has only been in business since earlier this year, Naaz is encouraged by positive signs of growth:
- Out of the trial phase: They’ve come out of the initial pilot with clients who are still with Gen by Gen Health and paying for the services. In their weekly check-ins, clients say they’ve been a great help.
- Excited sales team: The sales reps are confident and invested in what they’re selling.
- Assisted living feedback: Assisted and independent living facilities have been giving them the green light and are excited about their services.
Gen by Gen’s growth relies heavily on word-of-mouth referrals.
Naaz explains: “I don’t think that there’s a better testimony to our services and how impactful we are unless you’re hearing it from our clients. They say, ‘I had no idea that I could be at a better doctor, or I could get such great care, or that physical therapy was the answer to my mom’s chronic chest pain.”
She also has representatives at assisted living facilities and nursing homes who educate potential clients about their services. Naaz and her team also talk about Gen by Gen at adult day programs and recreation centers.
They are starting to reach out to individual physicians as well after getting positive feedback in appointments.
Amazingly, Naaz is building Gen by Gen Health and raising a newborn baby. She says she sleeps in three-hour increments and is always available to her clients.
She tells OpenPhone, “I’m always on, always available. There’s a set of clients from our trial period when we first started who I still personally take care of. So if they’re at a doctor’s appointment, I’m on the phone with them. If they have a new medication, I’m researching it.”
While Naaz enjoys accompanying her clients in virtual doctor’s visits, she can’t attend them all. Her team of care coordinators handles the bulk of the client load, and she meets with them during the week to review their care plans and revise goals. She also meets with her marketing, sales, and business development teams.
“I do that in between diaper changes, nursing, and putting my baby down for a nap throughout the day,” she says.
Naaz’s dream is that Gen by Gen becomes a part of every hospital system and every assisted living facility. The moment you check in, you’d get assigned to somebody at Gen by Gen Health. They’d pick up your care and run with it till the very end. Even if you changed hospital systems, they’d be there to help.
Growing the business means more people would have access to care management services. This would ultimately reduce ER visits, make sure that our emergency departments are appropriately being utilized for true emergencies, and reduce the cost burden for healthcare in the United States.
Though growing Gen by Gen is a slow climb, it’s a worthwhile endeavor.
“What I’m learning now is there is a right time and a right place for my business and services,” she says. “I just have to be patient.”
If you are interested in trying concierge care services, Gen by Gen Health is offering a 14-day free trial of their services now through the end of the year.
Cierra is a Content Producer at OpenPhone and the former Content and Community Manager at Superpath. She’s passionate about communicating better with customers.